A Publication of WTVP

Forward-thinking designs and prototypes are changing modern transportation as we know it.

Above: In January Nissan unveiled research that will enable vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain, redefining how people interact with their cars. Its Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V) technology promises to speed up reaction times for drivers and will lead to cars that keep adapting to make driving more enjoyable.

In recent years, technological advances in the automobile industry have been announced at a record pace. Manufacturers are racing to introduce new features in safety, convenience and connectivity that might have been difficult to imagine just a few short years ago. We often say that a vehicle is an extension of one's personality. It is reasonable to assume that in the not-so-distant future, that statement will hold more truth than we could have ever imagined.

As an automobile enthusiast, I have always loved classic cars. From Corvettes to Mustangs, there is nothing like the roar of a finely-tuned classic. However, today’s cars have achieved a level of sophistication that is nearly as impressive. With each new advancement comes a new model, segment or feature that benefits drivers and passengers alike. At events like the Chicago Auto Show, the world’s automobile manufacturers introduce forward-thinking designs and prototypes that are changing the idea of modern transportation as we know it. When the curtain is pulled back and the latest prototype is revealed, it becomes evident that anything is possible.

Years of Breakthroughs
Since I started selling cars and trucks, I have seen hundreds of technological breakthroughs. Standard features we take for granted were once only available in our imaginations. Years ago, if you told me that cars would eventually have 100% electric capability, I would not have believed it. Sure enough, we now offer electric vehicles capable of hundreds of miles of range on a single charge, with no end in sight.

Perhaps the most exciting advances in automotive technology are related to safety and connectivity. In central Illinois, we rely on our cars and trucks to get us to work, school and everywhere in between. The latest “driver assist” technologies are designed to make us more aware of our surroundings, anticipating events before they happen. Features such as lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and rear automatic emergency braking are just a few ways our vehicles are becoming smarter and safer.

In recent years, the media has focused on fully autonomous vehicles that actually drive themselves. Major manufacturers like Ford, Chrysler and General Motors have dedicated significant resources to self-driving technology. It is possible that we will see fully autonomous vehicles on the road, in some capacity, within the next three to five years. All signs point to ride-sharing and livery applications as the logical first steps for this technology. However, it remains to be seen how autonomous vehicles will integrate with our existing infrastructure and the millions of driver-controlled vehicles still on the road.

Brain to Vehicle… and Beyond
Recently, Nissan introduced “Brain to Vehicle” (BTV) Technology, which is still in the early stages of development. A vehicle’s computer system analyzes behavior patterns of the driver, eventually anticipating actions before they are likely to occur. As time passes and more miles are driven, the vehicle becomes increasingly aware of the driver’s preferences and responds accordingly. Although BTV technology might seem related to “autonomous driving,” it actually allows the driver to remain behind the wheel, which many of us still enjoy.

In ten years, it is safe to assume that people will still be driving cars and trucks. Perhaps we will be sharing the roadways with fully autonomous vehicles, but we will still have the option to drive ourselves from point A to point B. Fortunately, the technology will continue to astound us—and our daily commutes will be safer and more enjoyable than ever before. iBi